This fragment of skin purportedly from the inner left thigh of Abner Doubleday (1819-1893) was discovered in a refrigerator in the basement of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1948. There is no record that this artifact was ever exhibited at the Hall of Fame; in fact, most professional curators would consider a relic of this nature far too disturbing for public display. All of which brings up the question of why this artifact would have been preserved in the first place. No one at the Hall of Fame seems to have an answer, although modern-day conspiracy theorists would no doubt offer a host of explanations. We do know that the Hall of Fame is based on a fiction, that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. Could the Hall of Fame at one time have intended to exhibit this artifact in tandem with the renowned “Doubleday baseball” to buttress this deception and anoint the Civil War general as a baseball deity?
ADDENDUM: New information that has recently been shared offers a possible explanation for how the Abner Doubleday skin fragment wound up at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. In his July 29, 2017 article in the New York Times, entitled “When Cooperstown Almost Changed from Museum to Mausoleum,” Richard Sandomir indicated that there were discussions in the 1940s about transferring Lou Gehrig’s ashes from a crypt at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Furthermore, Stephen Clark and Paul Kerr, the HOF’s president and treasurer, respectively, exchanged correspondence about bringing the cremated remains of other members of the Hall to Cooperstown as well. “If there are no legal or technical reasons why it should not be done,” Kerr said, “I would think that a repository for the ashes of the immortals would add immeasurably to the creation of a shrine of baseball.” In light of this correspondence, it is plausible that the Doubleday skin fragment was intended to be part of this proposed repository for the remains of baseball’s immortals.